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And THIS Is Why I Love Reality TV: You've Come A Long Way, Chucky Baby


Long gone are the days of Love Connection when Chuck Woolery helped young singles with big hair and bad Miami Vice fashion get together in 80s style. No more hit-the-plunger Scrabble anxiety. And, alas, no more of his short-lived reality show starring Chuck as himself along with about nine kids and his wife. What was it called again? How high am I? Baked? Drugged Up Chuck? Be Sedated With Woolery? Oh, wait, I know: Naturally Stoned. Because he is, I guess?

Still, Chuck remains shining in all his game show brilliance on GSN. Take the recent weekend-long marathon of Lingo. Once a speller, always a speller. After years away from Scrabble, Chuck makes his 2 and 2 comeback with another game where people need to have spelling skills to win.

Here’s the best thing that happened during the Lingo Marathon. Would you call it a Lingathon? Anyway, they replayed a few episodes that were Mexican themed. No rhyme or reason behind having a Mexican theme. Except for maybe getting Chuck Woolery to wear one of those Mexican blankets draped over him as if he’s in Young Guns and getting him to change his famous catchphrase to [i]dos y dos[/i]. He also had a sombrero strapped to him; it wasn’t on top of his head, but was on a string hanging down his back as the string wrapped tightly around his throat, on the verge of choking him.

The contestants wore similar get-ups. The gals wore flamenco skirts. I’m sure they had castanets lying around. Chuck had maracas. The pretty girl sidekick was wearing close to nothing but it was Mexican themed. She kept repeating the prize money in pesos.

Lingo has gotten much better over the years. The first season had Chuck all by his lonesome, and the contestants were awkward. I actually thought that the two people on a team didn’t know each other before the show and were paired at random from the audience. Turns out, they were just incredibly socially awkward.

Now, Chuck has blonde highlights in his hair. Chuck has a pretty girl sidekick who he so obviously is smitten with, and the contestants are weird but don’t act as if they don’t know each other. Instead, it’s sort of like they deserve each other. And you can so tell when Lingo is ruining a friendship. There’s always that team with the one really good speller and the one who can’t get put two letters together. The players who always pull the red stopper balls are really funny too; they have the worst luck, and their partners hate them. The way they have to pull out the blue balls and state the number on them is so cheesy. And I love every minute of it.

The prize has grown sweeter also. They used to offer a trip at the end if the team made Lingo on the first ball at the end; then five grand if the team pulled a winning Lingo ball that was not the first try. Now, they offer a pot of money that grows and grows as long as a team does not win Lingo on the first pull. The pot was recently up to 28 grand. That’s a lot compared to the trip to Jamaica they were offering, which costs about 2 grand if you go to Breezes all included resorts. In a world of game shows that offer millions of dollars as a prize, five grand was not cutting it. True, 28 still doesn’t really cut it either. So why are people going on the show?

Chuck Woolery. The man is a game show icon.

Forget about stupid Alex Trebec and his snooty snippy attitude. I always want to throw a shoe or a French-to-English dictionary at the television whenever Alex says one of those French words all French-accent-like. The most exciting thing about Alex Trebec is wondering if he’s got his mustache. Occasionally, he shaves it off. Riveting.

Then there’s Wink Martindale, who I do love but who is also a bit annoying. He likes to build suspense where there is none. And then he did that show, Debt, which didn’t really work out so well for him. He peaked at High Rollers.

Bob Barker is probably the only host that surpasses Chuck Woolery. He’s a living legend. He’s got a smarmy mysterious aura about him from all those rumors of sexual harassment between him and Barker’s Beauties. But seriously, if you take a job for which you label yourself “Barker’s Beauties,” aren’t you kind of handing yourself over to him? It’s a possessive apostrophe you’ve got there, ladies.

So I suppose Chuck Woolery is the poor man’s Bob Barker. You know what? I’m taking that back. Chuck Woolery is the basic cable Bob Barker. There we go. Basic cable is where we can all still see Love Connection with all that 80s innocence and bad hair. Who needs to see scary looking people licking each other on Blind Date and 5th Wheel and Next when we can see people with huge shoulder pads and jerry curls talking about driving to Santa Monica and having a drink? They always go to Santa Monica or Santa Barbara. Basic cable is where we can see reruns of Scrabble and those 70 year olds plunging for their lives. And now, we see all the spellers of the world unite in Lingo.

[b]And THIS is why I love reality tv[/b]: Chuck Woolery is timeless and wholesome and gives me a natural high. (Thank you, GSN, for holding on to him.) He’s stint in the reality world was awesome.

Which brings me to the real reason I’m writing this. As of right now, I’m officially starting a campaign to bring back Naturally Stoned. What the world needs now is more Chuck Woolery.

Who’s with me? Email me: Christina@realityshack.com or check out http://christinamrau.blogspot.com.


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